Dogs and outer coats and claims it keeps them cool

So I have a Samoyed dog. She’s the cutest dog in the world, looking like a white teddy bear, but that’s besides the point.
We have heard from people, and on the internet when you search it, that the coat also helps them keep COOL in the summer. Now, there is a double coat: an outer long hair coat, and a fluffy, down-like under coat. If you feel this super soft undercoat, you’d know it’s an amazing insulater that traps air in all the little fibers.

They keep saying the coat helps keep them cool, and you shoudn’t shave them for the summer.
But basic physics contradicts this. Sure, an insulator helps keep any stagnant space whatever it was like before whether hot or cold, but a dog is not a stagnant space. The body always maintains a high temperature (for humans it’s 98.6, for dogs it’s higher), and heat is always being generated and must be dumped, especially during play time. It’s also rarely above body temperature outside. How could an insulator POSSIBLY help keep a dog cool?

MAYBE there’s an issue with sunburn on the sensitive doggie skin, but that’s a different issue.
Sure, if it’s HOTTER than body temperature outside, then the insulation will help, but like I said that’s rare, and even then it’s still not such a cut and dry issue since the body is always generating heat that needs to be dumped. If not heat then certainly moisture, for proper transpiration.

Am I not right? Are all these sources and claimed authorities all wrong?

I think it is mostly myth. The primary source people seem to cite when making the claim is this book:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Complete-Puppy-Dog-Book/dp/0883658240

…which I doubt went through much peer review…

Dogs can cool themselves fairly well through panting and by putting their belly on a cool surface. And I am sure a short coarse coat is great at stopping sunlight absorption. Plus it is true an old dog may have trouble re-growing a clipped coat in time for winter.

But I used to have a fluffy Akita, who was most joyous once she had been sheared. Because wearing 8 pounds of fur around in the summer sucks…

Perhaps a very natural dog, like a wolf, should be left alone. They are well adapted for survival. But most are fully inbred, and need some help.

I have my second great Pyrenees, and live in SE Georgia, so I’ve researched this before. Most veterinarians seem to recommend that you not shave your dog - close clipping is fine for many breeds, but shaving is not a good option for most dogs, especially double-coated dogs. Dogs’ cooling systems aren’t the same as ours, so what seems logical to keep a human cool and comfortable doesn’t necessarily translate to dogs. Representative cite from a veterinarian, but you can find the same advice in lots of places.

Yeah? Oh, maybe their cooling systems BREAK THE LAWS OF PHYSICS!? Is that how it works?
The only reasoning/explanation that the link cites talks about dogs mostly using panting to keep cool. But the fact of the matter is their bodies are still hot and dump heat, and anything that traps that heat won’t help them

Furminate the undercoat & get rid of as much as you can. Clip long hair sorta short, depends on the dawg, but leave enough for sun protection.

We leave leg feathers and the last 1/3 of the fluffy tail. I think he could not walk without that broom tied to his ass.

Go slow & careful on loose skin dawgs, very easy to nick.

Our ½ St. Barnard & ½ Pyrenees has 2 very distinct hair types and about 100 cowlicks all over his body. He is by far the hardest dawg to groom that I have ever been around.

E have a half chow chow/Australian Sheppard mix. Hairiest dog we’ve ever owned. We just shaved his top coat and he is left with his very thick undercoat. It took us two hours to remove the top coat, it was like mowing through thick underbrush. He seems much much happier with the top coat removed. From my observation I have to say he appears to be much cooler with his top coat shaved.

As a bonus we left the hair long around his neck, do he looks like a lion!

I’m not the expert here, just pointing you to the research I did, which was echoed by my vet and groomer. We have at least a couple of veterinarians on this board. Maybe they’ll drop by with an opinion.

Note that dogs don’t sweat into their general fur, so its not very good at cooling. Its only good at stopping heat flowing.

Actually when its really really hot, the air is hotter than body temperature, the fur is actually keeping the hot air away from the body.

While you might want to keep your dog as cold as possible, you always want to have a dog with healthy skin at the end of the day. Clipping off all the fur can easily lead to injuries

  • sunburn

  • actual burns - the stupid dog isn’t used to avoiding touching hot things - the fur protects the skin from the hot surface such as the concrete or metal pipe

  • abrasion. The dog doesn’t know to protect the naked parts.

  • chemical irritation - the skin is sensitive to things like plant substances and insecticide…

It is perfectly reasonable to expect that Ogs’ cooling system would be capable of breaking the laws of physics. :wink:

I mentioned this, and again, this is rare. She’ll be hot on those days no matter what, as will all animals

I’m not mindlessly stubborn, I would just like to hear an actual reasoned explanation before I accept something so counter-intuitive. The explanation provided in the link was vague at best, and gave no real strong reasons

Maybe this link is a better cite. I liken it to saying that, while I want my own cooling system to be as efficient as possible, it would be foolish of me to make a modification that might risk permanently damaging my heating system, because otherwise, I’m going to be awfully cold next winter. Keeping the dog’s undercoat brushed out is kind of a chore, but knitting sweaters for her would also be a PITA!

A smashing retort! :cool:

I am hoping someone posts who knows definitively which is the better option- clipping or let it be.
I have a more than double-coated pomeranian. What comes out when he is brushed looks like another dog beside him! When he was younger I never cut his coat or had a groomer do it. I would brush out his undercoat a lot of times a week. He seemed fine that way. Where we live, it can be 108 degrees F in the summer for days at a time.

Some people would approach me and order me to trim him. Called me a torturer. I finally did have him cut in a puppy-cut style (evenly short all over except for the tail and top of head). He loved it, had so much more energy, and sometimes even suns himself outside.

I now own an Andis clipper, a few blades, and I have a happy dog. No facts here; just observation.

When I saw the thread title I immediately thought of the desert dwelling arab people. These folks wear what seems quite heavy clothing to a foreigner, in areas where exterior temperature can reach 120 degrees. These robes are always loose fitting, though, and seem designed to allow air to circulate beneath them. The purpose seems to be to trap the heat and ultraviolet of the sun away from the skin, while allowing air to circulate beneath. Notably, this sort of clothing is primarily used by lighter skinned semitic peoples of North Africa and the Middle East. Dark skinned people farther south typically wear much less, which suggests the key purpose is sunburn protection.

Does this really say anything about dogs? Well, not in any provably scientific way. But the suggestion of clearing out the undercoat while leaving the outer coat intact sounds a lot like loose fitting robes that trap the sun but let air circulate beneath. And I believe dogs are every bit as susceptible to sunburn as humans, if the dog is going to be in direct sun, shaving seems like a bad idea. But skin pigment probably makes a difference, some dogs have much darker skin than others, and I would expect paler skinned dogs to be more susceptible to sunburn.

Hasn’t evolution shown us that dogs (and I assume wolves for a more “pure” evolutionary example) thick coats are undesirable in the summer?

My Beagle has a thick double coat in the winter, but after a few warm days in spring she starts to shed like mad, leaving her with a much thinner summer coat.